Book Prize: ‘Order: The Story of Fangyuan Bookshop’ by Lu Chonghua and Li Jin

My Wednesday find – an award winning Chinese book. Order: The Story of Fangyuan Bookshop by Lu Chonghua, designed by Li Jin and published by Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, has been awarded the ‘Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt’ (‘Best book design from all over the world’) gold medal by the German book art foundation Stiftung Buchkunst (Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig).

My first degree was in Fine Art where I specialised in text, paper and book art practice…so I have quite a large love for book arts, especially from China. Also, I am in the process of researching and writing a chapter for the book Traditions and Revolutions in China’s Printed Image: Print in Modern and Contemporary China to be published by Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), USA, in 2016/17. Here, I will examine ‘Independent Book-Making Practices in China’s New “Third Space”’ – a unique and diverse insight into the philosophy, culture and forms of current, contemporary independent book-making practices in Chinese contexts, specifically artists’ books, art and photography books and independent presses and (self-) publishing from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I’ll keep you posted on this as it develops. So many words to write lately.

This year, the ‘Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt’ competition judged approximately 600 works from 32 countries where fourteen books from eight different countries won prizes.

Order: The Story of Fangyuan Bookshop tells the story of a 33-year-old private bookstore, Fangyuan. ‘Li Jin and Lu Chonghua both graduated from the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. Li Jin became a professor at the academy. Lu Chonghua began to manage the bookstore owned by his family. On every book order, Lu painted caricature portraits with different emotions to record his feelings. Lu spent four years making those memorable portraits into a book. His best friend, Li Jin, became the designer of the book. “It helps me to realize my design dream,” said Li. “In the book, there’s a story about book orders, and a story about my friend’s family, as well as the memory of several generations of a bookstore.”‘ [Text taken from ‘Chinese book wins title of ‘most beautiful book in the world” article.]

'Order - The Story of Fangyuan Bookshop' by Lu Chonghua © Marc Dirkmann
‘Order – The Story of Fangyuan Bookshop’ by Lu Chonghua © Marc Dirkmann

More information on the specific binding, design and materials of the book can be read in German on the Stiftung Buchkunst website.

Another Chinese book, Pleasure of Learning by Zhou Xue and designed by Qu Minmin (Phoenix Fine Arts Publishing Ltd./Shanghai Artron Art Printing Co., Ltd) also won, being awarded the ‘Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt’ (‘Best book design from all over the world’) bronze medal.

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